The flagship supercar for BMW’s range ‘i’ range of standalone hybrid, range-extender and plug-in electric models has been spied in winter testing for the first time.
The i8, previewed the EfficientDynamics concept car first shown in 2009, will use a hybrid driveline likely to combine BMW’s upcoming 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine with the same electric motor used by the i3.
BMW is developing an innovative architecture for the i8 and other ‘i’ models to cancel out practically all the extra weight of the batteries.
The new architecture, which goes under the name LifeDrive, uses an aluminium chassis to house the driveline, with the passenger cell constructed from carbonfibre-reinforced plastic developed in partnership with US-based SG Carbon.
With performance targets similar to the M3 – 0-62mph in 4.8sec and a top speed limited to 155mph - the new carbonfibre-bodied coupé won’t be BMW’s fastest production model; that accolade will rest with next year’s all-new twin-turbocharged V8-powered M5, according to Munich sources.
But with combined fuel economy of over 75mpg and a CO2 emission rating of only 99g/km, it will certainly be among the company’s most frugal production cars.